Test Taking Methodology

The Cyberkraft CompTIA Test Taking Methodology is a proven strategy that you can use to pass your next CompTIA exam. Use this test-taking method to pass your CompTIA exam on the first try!

What should you do before you start the test?

So before you actually start the test, I want you to take a few minutes and use some scratch paper. If you’re taking the test in a testing center, you’ll be given a piece of scratch paper or a dry erase board. If you’re taking the test online, you can ask the proctor if you can use scratch paper to help you take the test. Communicate with your proctor and ask for permission. Show them the paper on your webcam to make sure there’s nothing hidden on there or no notes, and they should allow you to use that scratch paper.

Now, take the first 30 seconds writing out after you’ve cleared this with your proctor online or after you’ve been given the scratch paper in their test center, to write out your brain dump. Now, these are things that you might have trouble remembering. A lot of people pick the port and protocol numbers. You can write out the different port and protocol numbers in a line and use that as a reference guide.

What this is going to do is first get you familiarized with the format and the environment of the exam. So if you’re at a testing center, you’re going to sit down at your computer. You’re going to have your scratch paper. As you write that down, you should become comfortable with your seat, with your computer, with the environment, how it sounds, and the sounds of the environment. How are other people moving around? Is somebody tapping on their test or stomping their foot nervously about the test? Is there an air conditioning running? Are people clacking away at the keyboard? What’s going on? Get familiar with those sounds.

Write your brain dump

Now, you are going to write your brain dump. Port protocol numbers are a good one. OSI model is another one. Sometimes people write down anything that they think would help them. Nmap commands or syntax nmap commands. Now, these may be things that you already have in your mind or they may be things that you are committing to memorization. Different certificate types are good examples. You might do like P7B and the different types of certificates. The purpose of this is also to get you comfortable. Once you’ve written down that information, you have that as a reference guide. You’re never going to have to go across a question and think to yourself, “Okay, what are my port protocol numbers? Ah, what’s DNS? Is that 55 or is that 53? You can just look at your reference number. “Ah, look, port protocol number. I have that on my reference sheet.” Look at my reference sheet. That’s the answer to that question. It gives you a lot of confidence when you have something that you’ve already prepared for come up on the test.

Go through and flag the questions

Now, as you go through the questions, you’re going to have the opportunity to flag the question. If you don’t know the question within the first 30 seconds, if you can’t confidently answer it, make a guess, select something, and then flag the question and then move on. Try and answer 30 seconds to a minute for each question. If you’ve taken the practice quizzes on the Cyberkraft site, all of our practice quizzes or practice exams are paced at that one minute per question mark to help you get familiar with that. It is best to take your best guess within 30 seconds.

Make a selection before you skip a question. Don’t just leave a question blank. If you are unsure of the answer, it’s best to make a guess. Oftentimes your instincts will be correct. Flag the question. Go on if you’re unsure of it. If you’re sure of the question, leave it unflagged.

Next, you’re going to find performance-based questions. These performance-based questions can be very involved. I want you to take about 10 seconds for each performance-based question and evaluate it. Is this a performance-based question that I can answer quickly? If you can’t answer it quickly or easily if you don’t think you can do that, then flag the question, don’t try and answer it, and then move on. Save it for the end. If you think you could handle it right there, so say it’s configuring firewall and you’re comfortable with firewalls, then go ahead and answer it right on the spot.

What do you do once you’ve reached the end of the test?

Now, once you reach the end of the test, you want to answer those performance-based questions that you skipped earlier. This is where this method allows you to ensure that you’ve answered all the multiple choice questions, the easy, and the low-hanging fruit questions. You’ve answered those first before you get to these performance-based questions that take a long time. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re spending a lot of time on performance-based questions where you only have 15 minutes left on the exam and you have 40 multiple choice questions left to answer. Answering all your multiple choice questions first before tackling those performance-based questions that are giving you trouble is your best bet. Answer those at the end of your first pass through the test.

Now, once you’ve gone through the test once, it’s very important to go through the test again. I recommend you go through the test three times. On the first time of going through the test, you answer all the multiple choice questions. You answer or flag all the performance-based questions, and then you answer those PBQs at the end. After that, you go through all the questions next. You want to verify that you’ve made a selection for each one. If you reach a question you have not flagged, that means you were confident about it, just verify that you made a selection. Skim quickly through the question and the answer to make sure that makes sense and keep going. Sometimes you may find that the answer that you selected was not the one that you originally wanted to click on, so you end up changing it.

When you get to the questions that you flagged, spend some more time focusing on them. Reread the question, and once you’ve gone through the test once, you should be in a better mental spot to answer those harder questions. You might have gained some information about some other questions or gotten a little more comfortable with these questions, and now you can answer those questions a little easier. It’s important to make sure that you read those questions.

Make sure you read all of the answers before you make a selection. You never want to read an answer and stop at the correct answer, because there are a lot of questions where you either have to select multiple choices or you have to select the best choice. There will be two answers that are both correct, but one will be a little more correct than the other, which is why it’s important for you to stop and read all of those answers beforehand.

Now, once you’ve gone through your second review, you could spend some more time on those performance-based questions if you were unsure of any. If you go through a question on your second review and you’re still not sure of it, leave it flagged. In the end, you should have time for your third review, and ideally, you only have less than 10 questions that you’re still unsure of at this point that you’ve left flagged, and you can go right to those questions using the course navigation and find those.

Now, remember, you have an acronym sheet available to you. There should be one within your testing software, usually in the help menu. You have help and then an acronym list. Some people have trouble with their acronyms. Make sure you find that before you begin your test.

If you still don’t know the answer after the third pass, that’s okay. Spend the rest of your time available on the quiz or on the test looking at those questions. Make sure you use all of your test time, even if you’re very confident about your results because there is always the possibility that you’ve just misselected different answers.

Personally, I’ve passed every single certification exam I’ve taken on the first attempt, but on every single one, I have used all of the time available to me. The method that I have been talking about is the method that I used to pass the exams. I’d flag the answers that I was unsure of and went back to recheck every single answer. My students have had a great deal of success with this method. Some people have different methods, but I definitely recommend this one.

Here’s a recap

Here is a summary of the test-taking method. First, you’re going to start with that brain dump by writing down your notes. Next, you’re going to through your first pass. You’re going to take about 30 seconds upwards to a minute to answer these questions. Flag questions you don’t know, but you’re going to make a selection for every one of the questions. You’re going to make an assessment for each PBQ lasting no more than 10 seconds. Ask yourself these questions: “Can I answer this right away or do I need to save it”? If you need to save it, flag it, and save it to the end.

Now it’s time for the second pass. You’re going to review every question. Make sure you made a selection and it’s the right one. You’re going to address all the flag questions. Spend a little more time on them.

The third pass is where you’re going to answer any remaining flag questions. You’re going to go back and you take some time on them. If you’re still unsure of a question after that second pass, go with your first instinct. Go with what you selected first, and don’t think about it too hard.

Remember, for most of these tests, you need 80% to pass most of these compTIA certifications. A lot of them are 750 out of 900. You don’t need to answer everything correctly to get a passing score, and sometimes there are questions in there that are test questions or that are experimental questions that they’re testing out to possibly include in future iterations of the exam. If you see something that might not make sense to you, maybe that’s one of those experimental questions. Don’t stress too hard on a couple of questions.

Now, let’s talk about some study techniques leading up to the exam. First, I want to talk about memory association. This is a process of retaining information by using some of our senses within our body to associate different memories or different subjects with certain actions. For example, if you’re studying for your Security+ exam, you could listen to the same type of music every time you study for that exam. There’s oftentimes when I’m studying, I’ll listen to the same band or same album on repeat. Once the test day arrives, I’ll play that same album on my way to the testing center or in the hours before the test, and that will help me recall that information passively. It’ll help my brain associate it.

Another thing that you can do is eat the same foods, or drink the same beverages. Studies show that scent is the strongest when it comes to memory association. Light a candle or wear a certain type of scent for the memory association. Now, if you’re taking the test at home, this could be a really good one to do, because you could light that same candle in that room, and then while you’re taking the test, you have that lit.

Try these tricks out to see if they work for you. Some people respond a little better than others to these tricks. Some people can trick their brains pretty easily into recalling information. Some people don’t really need to do anything for their memory.

Now, this is Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is a theoretical concept for how to gain different levels of understanding. When you first start learning a concept, you start off at the remember tier. This is where you’re recalling facts and basic concepts. As your understanding increases, you’re going to be able to explain those ideas. You’re going to be able to describe them or have a discussion about them, to recognize them if you see them. You’re going to have to apply the information to gain a higher level of understanding.

Now, the questions you’re going to receive on your CompTIA exam are going to test your level of understanding. You’re most likely going to have to apply that information in a new, creative way. It is important to remember the terms and how they fit together. This is something to think about when you are studying for the exam. Would you be able to teach somebody else these concepts? If you can, then you’re up at that level of that apply tier, and that’s going to mean that you’re ready for the exam.

These top tiers are higher levels of understanding. Create is when you know so much about the topic that you are able to write a book or teach other people by creating your own course curriculum. You’re going to need to understand this at the apply and understand level. Just something to keep in mind. A lot of people don’t know about Bloom’s Taxonomy, but it’s a good way to think about how we evolve our understanding of concepts through learning.

Let’s talk about visualization. The visualization technique can be used to help mentally prepare yourself for an exam. The first thing that you want to do is take a few deep breaths while closing your eyes. Imagine yourself sitting at the computer where you’re going to take your test. Now, ask yourself if you are going to be driving to the test center or are you going to be taking it at home? Depending on your answer, imagine traveling, walking to that location. If you’re at home, imagine walking to that chair where you’re going to sit down to take your test. What do you have with you? How are you feeling at that moment? Are you nervous about the test? If you’re at the testing center, imagine walking into the room with the computers, and sitting down at the computer. Who else is in there? What does it sound like? Is it air-conditioned in there? How does it feel? Are there any smells? If you’re at home, did you light a candle? What are you thinking as you start the test? Do you hear the sound of air conditioning? Do you hear the sound of other people typing on a computer? Is it quiet? Are you in a room that you’re familiar with? Think about how you prepare. Think about taking out your scrap paper, writing down your brain dump, and writing down things that’ll help prompt you to answer these questions on the exam.

Now, you’re presented with the first question. You want to think about how that makes you feel, your response to that, and how you want to go forward. Is there anything you want to tell yourself as you answer a question? Is this an easy question? Maybe you tell yourself, “Good job. Nice job. Keep moving. Keep going with the questions. Good job. Answer that question.” Words of encouragement.

What if you come across a question that you don’t really know or you’re having trouble with? Maybe the first three questions are something that you have to flag. Relax, calm down, drive through, follow your test-taking method, flag the question if you’re not sure, make the best selection, and move on.

Imagine answering a question that you think you got correct. Think about how that feels. Does that make you feel good? Feel confident about the question? Follow your test-taking methodology. Focus on each question one at a time. Try not to think about the test as a whole. Just focus on the questions before you.

Now you come across a performance-based question. Take a few seconds. Look at the question. Can I answer this question quickly? If you can, go ahead, start answering the question, and make your best selections. Maybe you answer it and you’re still not sure of a few things. Flag it and then move on. If you don’t think you’re going to be able to answer that correctly right away, go ahead and flag it, skip it, and move on through the test. Save it towards the end.

Now you get to the end of the first pass of the test. You’ve answered all of your multiple choice questions. Go back to the performance-based questions that you skipped and answer those. Once you’ve done that, you’ve answered all the questions, then go through your second pass of the test. Answer every question to as best of your ability. If you still are not sure, leave the question flagged. Go through that entire second pass. If you still have more time, begin that third pass, then focus just on the flagged questions.

Imagine submitting your test and the feeling that you are going to have once it’s complete. Doing this mental prep, this visualization exercise can be very helpful to quell that nervousness that you might get before tests. Some people get very nervous when they take tests. Visualizing and walking through all the steps in your brain can be helpful. I highly recommend you try this method out before you take a test, and I think you’ll find a lot of success. My students have found a great deal of success, even those who are very nervous test-takers, trying this Cyberkraft test-taking methodology. Try it out for yourself. I think you’re going to have some wonderful success.

This test-taking methodology has been proven to work for our Security+, CySA+, and Cloud+ students.  It could be that our test-taking method is just that good.  Or, it could have something to do with the fact that we offer a first-time pass guarantee with all of our instructor-led training.  Find out more information about our CompTIA instructor-led courses here:

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